Friday, December 28, 2012

Les Misérables Moves

On my own, pretending he's beside me...

My latest experience with Les Miserables hasn't fully wiped away all my previous ones, but it's certainly helped erase the reminiscent sounds and screeches of my musical theatre classmates from high school as they attempted to mimic the great classics that should never be performed by non-professionals. In fact, Les Mis seemed to be a musical of choice as classmate after classmate got up to sing yet another rendition of On my Own, Bring Him Home, or I Dreamed a Dream. Sometimes it felt like torture.

I saw the movie yesterday and while there are critiques to be made and I was slightly disappointed with the inability to be completely encompassed in the sound as I had been in the Broadway production of the musical, I felt like I was able to follow the plot better than ever before.

I sat in the theatre and was immediately inspired by a beautiful story of redemption and true change. It's a show that immediately engages your heart as you are constantly immersed in the inner thoughts and struggles of each character. And I couldn't help but think, 'Why can't I always feel like this? Why doesn't love always feel like this? Why doesn't life feel like this?' This intense heartache coupled with the greater joy that accompanies love and romance.

I remember applying to grad schools a few years back to get my Master's in Counseling. As I interviewed with one, I remember talking to a few of the current students about the program, discussing both the pros and the cons. I'll never forget one conversation I had with one of the girls. She told me that in this program she had uncovered more pain and heartache than she ever thought possible...but with that was a greater joy and love that was deeper than anything she'd ever known. I wanted to know that. I wanted to dig through the sludge and the muck, and while there might be great tragedy to process through, there might also be great triumph.

Les Mis kind of brought this to life for me. Knowing great joy in the midst of so much pain. In the midst of despair, poverty, destitution, death...there was still something to hope for, something to dream of, something (or someone) to love. And as we go about our daily, often mundane lives, I wonder how we become people who are passionately living through both the joys and destruction in our lives. In the face of tragedy, how do we become people who are willing to go to the depths of the pain so that we might know the greater joy?

Or are we people who run from it, avoid it, pretend it simply doesn't exist? When we experience loss, or heartache, or devastating news... are we willing to wade through the hurt in hopes that we might discover something better? Are we willing to confront our worst enemies (which may very well lie within us) in order to find victory and redemption as we choose better? And are we willing extend this same hope to others around offer them a second chance?

Can we be like the priest who offers Jean Valjean both hope and freedom in a single gesture as he gives a thief another of the silver that was already stolen? Can we be like Valjean who faces his inner darkness and chooses to love despite his inclination to hate? Can we search for ways to, in a moment, be people who extend grace and forgiveness instead of only offering judgment and penalties for breaking the law?

Can we be people who watch movies like Les Mis and allow them to move us toward action...whether it's internal or external? Can we be a people who might believe that the Lord can use any medium in which to call His people into something greater and deeper, into a place where we come out loving Him and His people more abundantly than ever before? A place where we are reminded of the grace and redemption we've experienced in our own lives as Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all of our sins and transgressions...a place where we desperately long for others to know the fullness of both the depravity and hope we wrestle with as we receive such a sacrifice and embrace the joy of what it means for our lives.

These are the things I think about when I watch Les Miserables (and thousands of other movies/tv shows, actually). What do you think about?

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